Benbulben, Sligo

Hilltoptreks walking weekend in Sligo – Yeat’s County.

Written by Louise Doherty

One of the great benefits of being a member of  Hilltoptreks walking club, are the numerous organized hiking weekends away, both in Ireland and abroad.

Mary, Louise and Edel

One weekend that stands out for me, was our trip to Sligo for the 2019 June bank holiday weekend.

On a sunny bank holiday Saturday, we all made our way to Sligo – some drove themselves, while others opted to avail of the bus provided by Hilltoptreks – and met up in the Glasshouse Hotel.  Here we were met by our guide for the weekend, Noel.  Noel gave us a brief rundown of our itinerary for the days ahead, along with a little bit of history of the area we were in.

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Walking in Wicklow

Scarr, Scarr Away in County Wicklow.

Written by John Kelleher.

I started walking with HilltopTreks over ten years ago, and over the years have enjoyed many walks both here in Ireland and in recent years in Europe.

John Kelleher

John in Bulgaria

While Wicklow is usually where we conduct most of our walks, we have over the years spent pleasant week-ends away walking in the Comeraghs, Galtees, Slievenamon, Donard, Mournes, Connemara, Ben Bulbin to name just some. In recent years we have travelled to the Dolomites in Northern Italy, Bratislavia in Romania and a group of us also hill walked in Southern Spain near Marbella.

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Luggala in Wicklow

Walking holiday in Ireland

Top from left to right – Noel (guide) Uta, Carol, Robin, Susan, Merridy, Maureen, Liz, Brenda O, Bert, Janice, Roland and Bob: Front – Terry (Guide), Marnie, Joan, Shirley, Jane, Brenda M, Paula, Terry and Celia.

Today we started a walking holiday in Ireland with a group from the outdoor walking Club from Victoria, Canada. We met up with our guides Terry Lambert and Noel Maguire with some time to introduce ourselves and load our gear onto the bus.

Well we had met some of the group (those that flew in early) yesterday to be precise for a walking tour of Dublin with Terry taking in Dublin Castle, Trinity College, st Patrick.s Cathedral, the city Hall and the Temple Bar area.

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Glanmore Lake

Walking – The Beara Way – Ireland

The Beara Way Ireland sits at the south west of Ireland and juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. It sits in both the counties of Cork and Kerry and is approx 48miles of hiking trail from Glengariff to Dursey sounds. It is probably one of the most remote of the peninsulas that sit in this part of Ireland and some might say the most beautiful and wild.

Sheelagh from Hilltoptreks walked this way in September 2019 and did a brief write up about it.


Glengarriff on the Beara Way

Day 1) Kenmare to Glengarriff

After a damp start departing Kenmare this morning the day got better and better.  The Beara Way has not disappointed and after wandering quiet country lanes we arrived into Glengarriff to a seafood dinner and a well earned glass of vino. Tomorrow we head for Adrigole and views of the Atlantic all the way.

Day 2) Glengarriff to Adrigole

Today’s section outshone any expectations of a trail. From the beginning we were off road into nature trails and then onto the open hillside for the rest of the day. Views out over the wild Atlantic all day added a feeling of remoteness to this section of trail. I’m looking forward to the next part from Adrigole to Castletown bere.


Castletownbere on the Beara Way

Day 3) Adrigole to Castletownbere

Starting in Adrigole today with ominous weather forecasts, the expectation was for waterproofs and battling the wind. What I actually got were perfect walking conditions with Beara island by my side and the trail to my self. The trail from Adrigole to Castletownbere skirts the lower slopes of Hungry hill and leads you into Comnagapple Glen, a remote and forgotten landscape overlooking Bantry bay with its sleeping giant Beara Island. Bogroads and mountain tracks bring you to Castletownbere past megalithic tombs and pieces of ancient history.  The Beara Way delivered again. I’m looking forward to more.


Colours of Casrletownbere

Day 4) Castletownbere to Allihies

Reluctantly leaving the bustling harbour town of Castletownbere with its multicolored buildings I set out again this morning on the trail. The Beara Way took me over the spur of Miskish mountain to incredible views of Coulagh Bay and Kerry in the distance. Open hillside tracks led to forestry and bog-roads and down to the gem that is Allihies. This trail has everything and the Cork people welcoming and keen to have a chat.
Dursey Sound tomorrow and I can’t wait.


On the Way to Allihies

Day 5 Allihies to Dursey Sound

An early start this morning meant we could visit Dursey Island in the afternoon, so after setting off leaving Allihies behind me, the trail led very gently along the coast. As I walked the sun rose over Allihies with its multicolored houses, the golden light intensifying the effect. After a few days of walking on hilly trails this turned out to be a very chilled days hiking, visiting Garnish Point on the way and ending at Dursey Point at our B&B.

Crossing to the island is an adventure by way of a cable car, the only one in Ireland. If sheep need to be transported to or from the island, they take priority. I have heard stories of people sharing a seat with a sheep. Truly the Beara Way never stops delivering. I get to visit Allihies in the morning again on my way to Eyeries, a fact that I am happy about as I am reluctant to leave.


Allihies to Dursey Sound

Day 6 Allihies to Eyeries

Above Allihies there are the ruins of copper mines long abandoned, they run along what is like the spine of the Beara Peninsula. Today the trail wound up through the mining area, overlooking the town of Allihies and Dursey island, before rounding the mountain to emerge again at the foot of Miskish mountain, waiting like an old friend at the Kerry side of the peninsula.

Beara while being very Irish in every respect strikes me as quite exotic and foreign, from the water buffalo I spotted in fields beside the trail to the remarkable place names, such as Allihies and Eyeries, and also you really do feel like you are a million miles from the all things hectic. A friend of mine once said to me that Allihies is colorful and Eyeries is positively psychedelic, well she was right. Eyeries appeared on the horizon, and you can’t help but smile. Another great day, on the Beara Way.

Day 7 Eyeries to Ardgroom

My tired legs were grateful for a slightly easier and varied days walking on the Beara Way. While the previous days have been mainly on mountain tracks, the trail today meandered between short sections of road and grassy lane-ways to lakeside paths.

On reaching Ardgroom I popped into Harringtons shop to find the best selection of homemade cakes and coffee. After purchasing the guilt free cake, the sin of which I walked off days ago, I sat outside in the sunshine. Everywhere you go in Beara everyone chats to each other. That natural curiosity of the friendly locals seems to rub off on anyone lucky enough to spend some time here. The result is groups of people sharing life stories and chats on the trail, at the bar or over a slice of cake.


Stone Henge on the Beara Way.

Day 8 Ardgroom to Lauragh

Each day on the Beara Way after Eyeries brings you back closer to the mainland and the trail from Ardgroom to Lauragh, see this transition take place. While the trail each day between Glengarriff and Ardgroom has not involved being near any signs of civilization for most of the day, I am now walking  through some managed forest, on tiny roads with all kinds of rural life taking place and grassy tracks once used to herd cattle. Lauragh is tiny and beautiful, welcoming like the rest of Beara. The trail is changing now each day and its just as well because its Bearas remoteness that appeals to me as a walker.   Its remoteness, and the amazing trails.

“This is definitely a trail in a million”.

To walk the Beara Way yourself you can do this with Hilltoptreks see here The Beara Way Ireland

Hill Walking in Ireland ¦ Hiking in Ireland – Hilltoptreks

Walking in Wicklow

Sally Gap on The Wicklow Way

Now, I know, I may be biased but I think Ireland is a great place to take a walk or a hike. For such a small island, it offers a huge variety of landscapes to explore. With coastal routes to mountain climbs and child-friendly trails. Nowhere is too far from the start point of a good walking route so we encourage you to boot up and step out!

Most visitors to Ireland will land in Dublin City on the East coast of the Island. Within just over an hour later you could be in wilderness in the Wicklow Mountains. Scattered with rolling hills and high mountains, dense woodland, steeped in history, sprinkled with native flora and fauna. Known as “the Garden of Ireland”, Wicklow is an enchanting place to get lost in – be it for a day or week.

On the Wild Atlantic Way, along the Western Coast of Ireland, you are spoilt for choice! There are more strenuous way-marked trails in the world but few are as spectacularly beautiful as The Dingle Way in Co Kerry. The Mount Brandon range (1000m) dominates the peninsula. It was also voted by the National Geographic as one of its top five most scenic hikes on earth. Incidentally, N.G. also describes the Dingle Peninsula as ‘the most beautiful place in the world’. It is a natural, open air museum with something ancient and interesting around most corners!

Walking in Connemara

The Devil’s Mother on the Western Way.

The Western Way brings you through Counties Galway, Mayo and also passes through Connemara. It has a wonderful remoteness, wilderness and isolated feel at times.  It combines all that is hauntingly beautiful about the west coast of Ireland and The Wild Atlantic Way.  It is Ireland’s largest tract of land without a through road so it is not very crowded to say the least. Connemara has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains the largest Gaeltacht (Irish language speaking area) in the country. It was drastically hit by An Gorta Mor – The Great Hunger – in the 1840’s and it has never recovered in terms of population.

Lakes of Killarnet - Ireland

Lakes of Killarney on the Kerry Way.

The Beara Way is a very interesting trail, half in Kerry and half in Cork! The roads are narrow and no buses can get past the village of Adrigole so it is off the beaten path. For this reason it can be difficult to get to for most tourists and attracts lots of artists and crafts people.  The presence of the warm Gulf Stream makes it a rich marine environment. The qualities of the waters off the Beara Peninsula are a Grade A standard and the region’s traditional maritime culture is as strong as ever. The ruggedly beautiful landscape of the area is breath taking with stunning waterfalls and valleys. There is also splendid heritage trails and walks, historic copper mines and mountains. Many visitors to the area have commented that life progresses at a different pace.

Our stunning Atlantic coastal scenery comes with some caveats to Mountain Safety. Our mountains may not be very high but the changeable weather can come as a surprise. Always be prepared with waterproof jacket and trousers, walking boots plus warm layers, hat and gloves.

A warm and dry hiker is a happy hiker!